Author: Nathan Van Coops
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Series: In Times Like These, Book 2
Publisher: Skylighter Press
Released: Oct. 23, 2015
Length: 19 hours 43 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction; Time Travel
Run from the past. Run from the future. Run for your lives.
He’s a novice time traveler in a big universe.
Ben just wants time with the scientist’s daughter who got him into this, but when he’s rooked into competing in a chronothon – an Amazing Race through time – getting the girl means he’ll need to make the finish line. When he finds out this competition is more than just a sprint through history, winning takes a back seat to surviving. To save the people he loves, he’ll have to conquer the real dangers hidden in the shadows of the chronothon.
The world of time travelers expands in this next installment of the In Times Like These series. Fans of book one will find more to love, but new listeners can jump right in and enjoy this stand-alone story. Expect action, adventure, and romance on this journey through past and future. Fresh dangers will arise for Ben and company in a quest for the finish line, where failure to keep up will cost more than just a shot at glory – it could mean the end for them all.
Nathan Van Coops lives in St. Petersburg Florida on a diet comprised mainly of tacos. He enjoys old planes, motorcycles, and Volkswagens; and contends that there is such a thing as “dressy” flip-flops. He is the author of three time travel adventure novels: In Times Like These, The Chronothon, and The Day After Never. You can also check out his sci-fi sky pirate adventure, Faster Than Falling.
Neil hails from the green hills and not-so-busy streets of River Vale, NJ, where he divided his time between theatre, literature, percussion, and policy debate. He is happy to note that he has managed to maintain this balance for the entirety of his adult life.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, PA, with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a Minor in Psychology, Neil acquired a M.F.A in Acting from the Trinity Rep Conservatory, in Providence, RI. He returned to NYC in 2003, and, since then, has made a career of theatrical performance, percussion, theatre education, and audiobook narration, and is currently living in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife, rambunctious son, and their mutt!
Starting his professional acting career working at festivals and and international tours performing Shakespeare opened his mind to the sweeping potential of theatre in performance to inspire and delight, a sensibility he has carried into contemporary theatre, new play workshops, film, TV and commercial work, and audiobook narration. Neil also has sought and developed educational opportunities, considering teaching as a means of advancing the craft of both student and teacher, and also a vehicle for social and political change. Neil has played drums in a wide variety of bands and musical groups, from punk, to prog, to jazz, to folk, and in theatrical performance, most notably for the Philly-based-90s-progressive-instrumental-rock-band, Lexicon.
As an audiobook narrator, Neil specializes in fiction, genre and non. A voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy, Neil strives to bring the same thrill of the possible to the actual, with non-fiction ranging from self-help both spiritual and practical, history, and cultural studies. Recording at home from a Studiobricks One Plus, he is an Audible Approved Producer, and has worked for numerous publishers, including Tantor Media, Penguin Random House Audio, Blackstone Audio, Audible Studios, Deyan Audio, Spoken Realms, and more. He is a proud member of SAG AFTRA.
Van Coops did a great job with this second in the series! I love the time travel aspect to this mystery book. It had all the right elements to keep me hooked the whole way through: excellent backstory, twists I didn’t see coming, and a sense of urgency in the pacing. Each character is well thought out and makes sense within this world. I had a blast getting to know them better and look forward to what comes next! I give it a 5/5 stars.
Hellegers narrated wonderfully 🙂 I loved his voice for the narration and with each character. They were distinct and sounded good. I felt like he did a great job with pacing and that there were no audio bloopers. He also put a good amount of emotion in his voice as well. I give him a 5/5 stars as well.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Nathan Van Coops. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Q&A with Narrator Neil Hellegers
- When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
- You know those puzzles where you first only see the very up-close details, and the image starts to zoom out, and you’re supposed to guess what it’s a picture of, and it’s usually a picture of Abraham Lincoln? It’s something like that; I had all the small pieces in my life, with my love of books, my theatre training, and general geekiness, and it slowly came into focus that narrating is what I should be doing. Also, it’s Abraham Lincoln.
- How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
- In the process of starting a family, I came to see that my vagabond, stage-actor life was unsustainable. In focusing on other options with my skill-set, I managed some more local work, particularly a fair number of on-camera commercials, at a time where the ‘goofy dad’ archetype was very prevalent. And while I had some success there, it wasn’t scratching the deeper itches creatively, and was also, in many ways, just as transient.
- I had been pushing into commercial VO a bit as well, with not as much success, but it occured to me that I maybe wasn’t matching the specific demands of Comm VO as well as I would have liked. Yet I had always listened to audiobooks, especially on lots of long drives between Providence, RI and the New York area in the summers I was working at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. It slowly dawned on me that narration could be a much better fit. There wasn’t like a flash of inspiration, more like a slow dawning, then I was like, oh it’s sunny!
- Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
- Ha, have I broken in? I’m like 40% joking; “imposter syndrome” seems to dwell heavily in more than a few narrators, including this one. But, procedurally: One thing to note is that the audiobook industry is considerably smaller than most other major entertainment industries. So after years of Film and TV meet-and-greets and Equity open-calls and the like, finding a far more intimate and immediate set-up was a pleasant surprise. There were also meet-and-greets and conventions, but the relationships were direct with the publishers and producers, so just by being present you could start meeting them, so when one was ready with the appropriate skills, it’s possible to move forward, bit by bit. As mentioned, I had thorough theater training, but there is narration-specific technique to learn, coaches to work with, and workshops to take. Not to mention, since I was starting by working at home, producing audiobooks independently, there were some technical hurdles to leap. Thank goodness everything is on the internet.
- I should also note here that the narration community is tremendously generous, and from the first friend I asked to “pick your brain about narration” (which I now fully understand how kind and helpful she was by permitting this, as it is something narrators get asked quite a bit) to the FB members willing to answer any questions, we all really have each others’ backs. It’s a lovely aspect of this job, but also very helpful in getting started.
- A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
- I won’t say it’s 100% essential but certainly, as the basic tasks of emotional empathy, directed action, and developing character is the same as in any kind of theatre, it is very helpful training. But also the technical training, especially vocally, is of great benefit for maintaining one’s instrument during hours and hours and hours of talking.
- What type of training have you undergone?
- I have a BA in Theater Arts (acting, directing, and design) from The University of Pennsylvania, with some time spent abroad in a London conservatory, and an MFA in Acting from Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence RI. Add to that various acting classes and coaching, both in acting and narration, and that’s my foundation. The work itself is the training built on top of that.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
- Well, the books always change, so that helps. And, in a given day, I always try to find the thing about the book that excites me, or is a valuable social lesson to convey, or is fun. At this point, though the hours are long, I’m so grateful to be doing what I’m doing, that if I start to feel weary, I slap myself in the face and get the heck back in the game. Aside from that, I try to sleep well, get some exercise, and drinks lots and lots and lots and lots of water.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I certainly am! I have to be? But I would be anyway. What I like about it is the pleasure of the narrator’s creativity in synthesis with the author. If the story is good, it can only get better. And if the narrator is good, then the story can be great.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
- My favorite is playing all the parts. BY WHICH I MEAN: really being able to get inside these all these heads, find what makes them tick, or how the main characters revelations build the story, how he or she changes. I can learn so many things, in non-fiction in particular, but also generally. Any book is a rich opportunity for exploration. Least favorite is probably feeling the pressure of deadlines, which is of course necessary and often times a motivator, but still.
- What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
- I like to think I have a good handle on emotional life, and investing into the emotional lives of the characters. I’m a fair hand at dialects, which does help a lot (and is also lots of fun, especially learning a new one). I also like to consider the big picture, the author’s overall objective, and actualize that in all sorts of moment-to-moment choices along the way.
- Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
- Genre, hm, I dunno…I think it’s more about a certain book. After all, as is often said, the characters in each book don’t know what genre they are in, so why should I? I have only declined being considered for a project for…political reasons. I told them “you’re going to find a narrator better suited for this project than I am”.
- What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
- So, I’ve been narrating Nathan’s books, and this series in particular, for quite some time, basically tracking over my entire “career” as a narrator. At the time that I saw THE CHRONOTHON (Book 2 of the IN TIMES LIKE THESE series, but the first one we did), I was intrigued by a time travel series that had a legitimate explanation for multiverse time travel and yet also was rooted in the characters’ human relationships. This was evident just in the audition materials and what I could read about the book online. And it was also a *long* title, and I wanted to really see how I could build a story in long form. Then later, we went back to producing IN TIMES LIKE THESE (which I had already read as preparation for TC), which, really, is all about Ben’s foundation, his friends, and establishing the sci fi basis for everything else. Then came THE DAY AFTER NEVER, yet another evolution, this time reaching deeper into the past and future, expanding possibilities and deepening the characters and their relationships. (Is it clear yet that working on his series is a metaphor for my work as a narrator?) When Nathan let me know that THE WARP CLOCK was a thing, I was so grateful that I could reapply all that I had learned to these people I knew so well, whose plight with which I was so familiar.
Author Nathan Van Coops
- Waffle fries or curly fries? Nope. Tacos.
- GIF with a hard g or soft g? G is for graphics so I pronounce it that way. I’m not a barbarian.
- Fantasy or science-fiction? I love both but tend to imagine things in terms of science fiction. Favorite books from childhood were fantasy though. The Neverending Story made my life.
- Superman or Batman? Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Otherwise send me to the MCU.
- Text message or call? Call. Let’s chat.
- Pancakes or waffles? Waffles all the way. But you can hold the whipped cream.
- Doctor Who or the Walking Dead? I already have a crossbow, I want a T.A.R.D.I.S.
- TV Shows or movies? Movies. Opening credits make me happy knowing I’m about to be told a complete story. I can only commit to a TV show if it’s ten episodes or less and bingeable. Gotta get back to the writing!
- Facebook or Twitter? Facebook Live!
- Alice in Wonderland or Robinson Crusoe? Wonderland. Though I would relish a desert island experience too, assuming I don’t a Tom Hanks toothache.
- Being too warm or too cold? I hate being cold. Bring on the heat!
- Netflix or Hulu? Netflix originals have been outstanding lately.
- Work Hard or Play Hard? My work is a lot like play, so both?
- Passenger or Driver? Driver. Stick-shift. Preferably something from the ‘70s.
- Amusement Park or Day at the Beach? Beach day!
- Honesty or Other’s Feelings? Honesty, though if I were clever I would learn to empathize better too.
- Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater? Theater! I love a good big-screen experience assuming the movie deserves that treatment. Better check Rotten Tomatoes first…
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